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Facebook can secretly kill your phone batteries, former employee claims

Thought Facebook was being a bigger battery hog than usual? You might not be going crazy.

Published onJanuary 31, 2023

Facebook app on phone 3
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

There’s no shortage of controversies when it comes to Facebook, from harvesting your personal data on smartphones to sharing data with unsavory third parties, and more. Now, the platform has been accused of being able to secretly kill your smartphone battery.

Former employee and data scientist George Hayward told the New York Post that Facebook can secretly drain your phone battery as part of so-called “negative testing” practices. Negative testing is a form of software testing that applies unexpected behaviors and circumstances to an app or software to see how it copes.

“I said to the manager, ‘This can harm somebody,’ and she said by harming a few we can help the greater masses,” Hayward was quoted as saying by the outlet, adding that he was fired for refusing to participate in negative testing. The data scientist filed a lawsuit that has since been withdrawn as he is required to go to arbitration, his lawyer told the outlet.

Was Facebook actually killing phone batteries?

The former employee believes Facebook engaged in negative testing because he was purportedly given an internal training document titled ‘How to run thoughtful negative tests,’ containing examples of negative testing. Unfortunately, he didn’t divulge any examples in the document.

Is Facebook installed on your phone?

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Negative testing in general isn’t necessarily a controversial act, as companies do need to thoroughly test their software in a variety of scenarios. However, it seems like Facebook crossed the line in a big way if it was deliberately depleting users’ phone batteries as part of the practice.

Hayward specifically reasoned that deliberately depleting a user’s phone battery could put their life at risk in cases where they needed to contact emergency services. Furthermore, this practice could also accelerate battery degradation by forcing users to charge their phone more often.